Backcountry Ski Bindings


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Pins in certain bindings from 2017/18 could break, posing a fall risk

The race is on to create the perfect beyond-the-ropes setup.

The short answer? It all depends on what kind of skiing you want to do.

For years, I used to test how far I could go on day trips without eating. I don’t know if it was some unexplainable machismo or just laziness, but that mindset changed about six months ago. I’d gone on a four-hour run with an empty stomach and no food in…

It’s tough to tell how trustworthy a piece of gear is going to be when you first buy it. In fact, the only way to actually test your equipment’s longevity is to, well, test it. Thoroughly. So instead of having you, dear reader, put your gear through the ringer in…

Forget about rubbing two sticks together. Without matches, your only hope of getting a fire started in the wild is to take advantage of other tools at your disposal. Mykel Hawke—a former U.S. Army Special Forces Green Beret and founder of survival school Spec Ops—recommends two easy,…

Yes, I write about gear for a living, I have access to the most sophisticated toys and tools in the outdoor world, and I’m constantly geeking out over tech details. But I’m keenly aware of the fact that the gear does not make the athlete. I was a much better…

I'm having trouble figuring out what gear to give my loved ones for the holidays.

The first 16-DIN tech binding, the new Beast features a “return to center” toe piece. As you ski, the binding deflects to absorb shock. It’s one of the reasons, safety-wise, alpine-style bindings outperform tech bindings.

Rossignol’s honeycombed tip and tail shed mass where it’s vital—away from your body. As a result, it’s effortless to throw the Soul 7 sideways in the trees or whenever you need to scrub speed.

You now have two choices when it comes to telemark bindings: 75mm (traditional duckbill) and the newer NTN. The former is favored for its simplicity, lower cost, and greater variety of boot choices, but NTN is vastly more powerful and releasable, and it’s better-suited to driving today’s fattest skis.

Dynafit-style tech bindings, like the Radical and the La Sportiva RT, are the only ones that offer a true free pivot, meaning there’s no hardware attached to your boot heel or sole. They have fewer moving parts, ice up less, and require 15 percent less energy from you than other bindings.

Go deeper with our favorite telemark and alpine touring bindings of the year.

Outside picks the best gear for your alpine-touring setup, including the K2 WayBack skis.

Atomic and Salomon have collaborated to create a powerful alpine touring ski binding.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2012 Winter Buyer's Guide, including the Line Celebrity 100 skis.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2012 Winter Buyer's Guide, including the Marker Duke bindings

What's the ultimate telemark setup this year? The Editors Santa Fe, NM

With a DIN of 12 and alpine-like toe and heel releases, the Freeride Plus is ideal for skiers who split time equally between the backcountry and the resort. 4.5 lbs; bdel.com Bonus: Also available as the Explore ($370), which have a max DIN of 10 and weigh almost…

Good for All Mountain While a few of our old-school testers found the unchanged 01 too powerful, our hard-chargers once again loved it. Because of its underfoot cartridge-and-cable routing and lots of heel retention, every ounce of your energy gets transmitted to the ski. Three different cartridge offerings allow…

ALPINE TOURING Good for All Mountain With unrivaled downhill performance, the DIN-16 Duke does anything a resort binding can—huck air, carve rails, hammer bump lines. Just don't think of it as an AT binding. It's an alpine binding with a walk mode. Yes, the Duke will tour when you…

Use your ski pole to switch this durable binding to the more efficient touring mode (instead of your toe pivoting in the binding, the binding pivots with your foot). 3.7 lbs; bdel.com Bonus: Choose from three compression-spring cartridges of varying stiffness (binding comes with one; pay $56 each…

Good for All Mountain With a max DIN of 12 and full alpine- and AT-boot compatibility, the Freeride Plus remains the go-to binding for aggressive alpine skiers who spend equal time in and out of bounds. Downhill performance isn't quite as rock solid as the Baron, but the Freeride…

ALPINE TOURING Good for Touring The 2010 ST uses a chromoly-steel toepiece that improves strength while shaving nearly two ounces of weight. And the interface between pins and inserts is now more precise, which increases downhill control: “Surprisingly solid,” said one tester. We love the pivot-point efficiency, kick-turn ease,…

Weighing in at just over a pound and a half per pair, the TLT Verticals are 50 percent lighter than any other AT binding on the market. Don’t worry, they’re burlier than they look—you can ski them hard. 1.7 lbs; dynafit.us Bonus: Dynafit reinforced the climbing post this…

Good for Touring Designed, built, and field-tested in the shadow of Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, the Switchback remains the least expensive and lightest free-pivot tele binding on the market. Plus the design is refreshingly simple. “Makes you wonder why other tele-touring bindings are so complicated,” said…

TELEMARK Good for Touring The overhauled Switchback won many converts with its new bomber 410 heat-treated stainless-steel toe bar. “A perfect match with lighter two- or three-buckle boots for touring,” said one Wasatch-based tester. It is the lightest telemark-touring binding on the market, but hard-and-heavy chargers preferred the beefier,…

Testers praised the Targa Ascent's bomber construction, but flat-out raved about its uphill performance: A free-pivot mode offers touring without resistance, which means you'll conserve power for that extra lap. 3.1 lbs; genuineguidegear.com   Bonus: The heel piece flips vertically to serve as the climbing bar.   Bummer: Difficult to…

Good for Touring If you spend as much time going up as coming down, the new Dynafits are the way to go. They're unbelievably light but tougher than they look. “You really can charge on these,” maintained one tester. The Vertical FT12 is fundamentally the same as the previous…

Alpine Touring The Eagle’s wider mounting platform is sturdier than its predecessors’ and better at transferring power to the ski for increased edge-to-edge responsiveness. Accepts most alpine and all AT boots, and the smartly designed heelpiece makes switching from touring to downhill a cinch. 4.3 lbs. TAGS: smooth, sturdy…

With an alpine-style toe piece, a DIN of 13, and a heel lock to prevent an inadvertent switch to touring mode, the Naxo is ideal for aggressive big-mountain skiers. In touring mode, a smartly designed pivoting mechanism saves you energy by mimicking your natural uphill stride. 4.9 lbs; bcaccess.com  …

ALPINE TOURING Good for Alpine Touring A smaller version of the nx22 Black, the nx22 White better accommodates women's boot sizing and features Naxo's three-point hinge for ergonomic skinning. In downhill mode, torsional rigidity offers intimate power transfer from boot to ski. 4.6 lbs; backcountryaccess.com  …

Telemark Before last year, women and men with feet smaller than size 26 were locked out from the NTN party. This year, there are several women’s-size NTN-compatible boots, including options from Garmont (below), SCARPA, and Crispi. See page 88 for more details about this binding design. 3.9 lbs. TAGS:…

Our testers agree: The stainless-steel HammerHead is the toughest, most adjustable binding out there. Pick from five underfoot cable settings for varying terrain, foot size, or skill level. 3 lbs; twentytwodesigns.com   Bonus: Enjoy more than two inches of spring travel for ultimate control on big, steep lines.   Bummer:…

TELEMARK Good for Telemark The Bombshell wins again. She's, well, bomber, with five settings that allow for a handful of telemark styles; a solid, stainless-steel toepiece; and a six-inch, front-mounted compression spring that's 20 percent softer than the men's counterpart. 3.1 lbs; twentytwodesigns.com      …

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